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Once Is Not Enough

Updated: Jan 6

Our friends Andrea and Paul Kane from Frederick came to visit us in San Miguel for a week in early November and fell in love with the city. One week was just enough to wet their appetite and they left saying it would not be their last visit here. So when our new friends and neighbors Tony and Nany Horton said that their house would be available to rent during the three months they’re away skiing and seeing family in Utah, I let the Kanes know. The Hortons’ house is on our privada, our private little walkway, just next to ours. It’s absolutely magnificent, filled with art and artifacts the Hortons have brought back from the 36 years they lived overseas while Tony was Director of International Schools. Nana forwarded photos to me that I passed on to the Kanes, and if San Miguel itself wasn’t enough of an enticement to come back, the house was the final come-on to get them here. They’ll be here today, Jan 5, staying until January 18th.

Paul and Andrea had better be careful. The city gets into your veins and flows steadily toward your heart. What started as a plan to visit for a week or two often begins to taste like more. and pretty soon vacationers start calling a realtor, looking at houses to buy, or land on which to build. It is so tempting, considering the realatively low cost of charming houses and the variety of neighborhoods. We know people who are in their 80’s and are in the process of renovating a house they just bought. But I say no thank you to that. At my age I’m not interested in the headaches that come with owning a house, never mind the complications of owning something in a foreign country. Even if we stay past the one year we signed up for, we will simply extend our current lease for another year. Dream homes can easily turn into monsters that run your life.

We feel incredibly lucky to have rented a house that we love in a wonderful neighborhood only having seen it online . Dominique, a lovely Canadian whom I’ve never actually met, is the owner. We’ve not met but we’ve corresponded so much I feel like she’s a friend. Norma is the house manager, a Mexican woman who could not be more pleasant to deal with. I don’t know how we could have managed without her. She pays the maid weekly and makes sure the gardener shows up more or less every couple of weeks on schedule. She has an incredibly reliable, capable and honest bevy of workers that work under her direction and that she will send whenever there is anything that needs attention in the house. And things can and do go wrong, even in a lovely well-built house.

When the bedroom roof developed a small leak during rainy season, we called Norma and the next day someone was here to take care of it. When the pump for the filtered water in the kitchen sink started beeping incessantly, we called Norma. A plumber was out the next day. When the house settled and shifted after rainy season and suddenly a picture fell off the wall and shattered the top of the glass coffee table, we called Norma and she sent someone from a glass repair shop to take the top and replace it with a new one the next day. When we wanted to set up an account for the cable company, we called Norma. We need a fax sent, we call Norma. We want to know where to find a cell phone company in the area, ask Norma. She is classy and pretty and efficient and warm. It’s a pleasure to see her whenever she stops by to drop off a bill or leave an envelope for Alicia, our housekeeper. If I were a single guy in my 50’s, I’d be calling Norma. And if I were ever crazy enough to buy a house here, I’d be signing a contract for Norma to manage it.

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